Friday, December 12, 2014

Have a Happy Whedon Christmas...on TV

Christmas is less than two weeks away, but the average TV viewer will bump into at least one holiday special a day, whether it be Rudolph, Scrooge, George Bailey or the Grinch.

The odds get even better thanks to cable TV offering literally hundreds of Christmas movies, mainly thanks to the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime. Their holiday libraries are so big they usually start just after Halloween, and wrap up on New Year's Eve. Through all those movies, it's likely you'll see at least one member of the Whedonverse may appear.
In fact, there's several movies where we see our favorite actors...

Dear Santa:  Lifetime premiered this movie three years ago. Amy Acker plays a party girl named Crystal, whose parents demand she straighter herself out by Christmas or they'll cut off her credit cards. She gets an idea from a letter to Santa from a seven year old girl, who wants her widowed dad named Derek to get a new wife. He also runs a soup kitchen. Crystal volunteers there, but also has to battle Derek's jealous girlfriend. Acker is really cute in this movie, quite different from her roles on Angel and Person of Interest. Also available on Hulu

Holiday Wishes:  Also a Lifetime movie, I thought this had one holiday trope too many, but it's still OK. Amber Benson plays a party planner looking for her missing sister, and getting support from her boyfriend who may not be who he seems. Then there's a rich girl and an orphan who switch bodies thanks to a magical ornament. With those three typical holiday plots, it's a bit crowded, but the helpful boyfriend does play a part is resolving things before his true identity is revealed.

Call Me Mrs. Miracle:  This was a sequel to a Hallmark Channel movie with Doris Roberts as the angelic helper who gets a job at a department store although no one remembers hiring here. Jewel Staite plays an assistant to a fashion designer, and she'd like to get her nephew a popular toy. Mrs. M comes up with a better idea that helps her and her store. Despite being well-known to Firefly and Stargate Atlantis fans, it was great to see Jewel in a romantic role. She gives off a Jennifer Aniston vibe.

A Golden Christmas:  This is from Ion Television. Nicholas Brendon is in this story about a lawyer who's upset her family home has been bought by Brendon's character. The story makes her look like a Scrooge when she tries to get the stop the sale, but a dog plays a big part in changing her attitude. It also turns out they knew each other as kids, but she doesn't remember. The dog will remind her.

Help for the Holidays:  Another cute holiday movie from Hallmark, with Summer Glau as an elf who helps out at a Christmas store. It seems the owners put too much time in their store and not enough on their kids. She also has a purse that is a smaller version than the one Mary Poppins has. She also starts falling for a guy, which threatens her mission. Glau is a great elf, but I said in my review the story had a ton of missed opportunities.

A Christmas Wish:  The original Buffy, Kristy Swanson, is a woman with three kids whose husband leaves her and leaves her penniless. She gets a job waitressing at a diner that may also close down. However, thanks to finding a root beer recipe, thinks will be looking up for them. Swanson is also in a new holiday movie on Ion called Merry X-mas, where she plays a woman who's about to divorce her two-timing husband thanks to some misleading photos. He can't get her to hear his side, but he hopes a blizzard could help. Also available on Hulu. 

Road To Christmas:  we can't leave out our favorite SHIELD agent, Clark Gregg, from the list. A Lifetime offering from 2006, it's about a fashion photographer who's on her way to a dream wedding, but is held up by bad weather. Gregg is an artist turned teacher with a teenage daughter. He takes in the photographer, and if you suspect she falls for the teacher, then you know your Christmas plots. Seems inevitable, since the photographer is played by Gregg's wife, Jennifer Grey. Of course, the movie has another reason why Gregg wins. Also available on Hulu. 

Snow Bride:  Tom Lenk plays a small role in this Hallmark movie. He's a reporter for a website hoping to get some dirt on a political family about to announce an engagement. A female rival tries to infiltrate the family, and does thanks to an accident. Thing is, this big-shot political family is more down-to-earth than the reporter thought. It doesn't stop her editor from planning to use some info Lenk uncovers, whether it's true or not. Lenk's also sporting a mustache in this movie.

Of course, there's also Buffy's holiday episode, "Amends". Some people think it's got a "Christmas miracle" cliche ending. Still, some people like that kind of ending, especially during Christmas.

My Buffy Movie Page Has Moved

As I am getting older, I am making some changes.
I've looked at my Yahoo home page, and whether I still need it. Since I have two blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Tumblr, my homepage is no longer the source of news it used to be. It used to be an update for Whedon shows, and a weekly episode guide, too. However, I could only save my Dollhouse episode guide through this site and Whedonopolis. I really wish I could have saved some of my episode reviews from Buffy and Angel. I never did review Firefly or Serenity, although I did comment on special events. 
So, I will have a new website through Wix that will be the new home for my memorial of The Bronze, and the day Angel was cancelled by the WB. It'll also be the home for some of my favorite cons, including the Flanvention, Wolfram and Hart Revue, Browncoat Ball and other events. 

I still need a home for my original page talking about the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie from 1992, and my dreams of it being riffed on by this guy and his two robots. Since Rifftrax has targeted Super Mario Brothers and Psycho II, plus both Doctor Who movies with Peter Cushing, there's always a chance. 
So, this is what I said about the original Buffy, with some updated comments:

Since the dawn of Man, the vampires have walked among us...killing...feeding.
The only one with the strength and skill to stop their henious evil is the Slayer.
She who wears the birthmark, the Mark of the Coven.
Trained by the Watcher, one Slayer dies, and the next is Chosen

It's very difficult to turn a good movie into a good TV show (MASH, Dr. Kildare, The Odd Couple, and not much else) or even a good TV show into a good movie (The Fugitive, MST 3000, The X-Files...maybe, South Park)

But turning a bad movie into a great TV show? Our Slayer may be the only character who has done that successfully...but it may have cost her respect and recognition that she so richly deserves.
The movie may be the reason why. Maybe it was a good idea that just wasn't executed as well as it should have.
Several actresses were up for the part, including Drew Barrymore, Allysa Milano and Alicia Silverstone (who was too young).
It was supposed to make Kristy Swanson, who played Buffy, a star. It was supposed to be Luke Perry's breakout role after several years as the male lead in 
Beverly Hills, 90210.Somehow, it didn't turn out that way.
On the other hand, it did have a well-known actor (Donald Sutherland as Merrick, the Watcher), two future Oscar winners (Hillary Swank and Ben Affleck), and a comeback role for Paul Reubens, alias Pee-Wee Herman..who was coming off a sex scandal that destroyed his career as a kids' TV host.
Not only that, it had David Arquette, who went on to fame in the 
Scream movies and telephone commercials, and wound up marrying Courtney Cox (and was a pro wrestling champion for a while).

The movie wasn't the sleeper hit 20th Century Fox had hoped. The major newsmagazines panned it. 
Time blamed the director for not having confidence in the script, while Newsweek blamed the script for not being able to merge the scary and funny bits as well as (and I swear to God this is true) Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

But the director, Fran Rubel Kazui, says the movie just wasn't marketed well, and didn't find its audience until it was released on video. The budget was seven million, but earned nearly 16 point seven million in the theaters. However, some criticized her for her hands-off style of directing. Joss Whedon, who wrote the movie, even admitted the movie didn't meet his vision. He talked about it in an interview with 
The Onion ...

I had major involvement. I was there almost all the way through shooting. I pretty much eventually threw up my hands because I could not be around Donald Sutherland any longer. It didn't turn out to be the movie that I had written. They never do, but that was my first lesson in that. Not that the movie is without merit, but I just watched a lot of stupid wannabe-star behavior and a director with a different vision than mine--which was her right, it was her movie--but it was still frustrating. Eventually, I was like, "I need to be away from here."

Fox executives also wanted the movie to be less funny and more scary, but Kuzui ignored those suggestions. He did have some nice things to say about Paul Reubens as Count Pee Wee, and that Rutger Hauer wasn't as bad in the movie as people thought.  The movie was supposed to end with Buffy setting the gym on fire (probably after she burns Lothos' head). The closest thing to his original script is in the three-part comic series, "Origin". 

There's not much connection between the movie and the TV show. In "Becoming, part one," the first meeting between Buffy and Merrick was MUCH different than in the movie: she met him in the TV show outside her high school, and he didn't look anything like Sutherland (more like Wilford Brimley). In the movie, of course, Merrick meets Buffy at the gym, and tells her about her "birthright." Also, there's no mention of a "Pike" in Buffy's past in the TV show, although there is in a Buffy novel. I suspect that there never really was a Pike, and they just added him for effect.

While the movie didn't make an impression in theaters, at least two of the producers, Gail Berman and Sandy Gallin, decided that Buffy would make a great TV show. If not for that, 
Buffy the Vampire Slayer would have been nothing more than fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000 (whose first supervising producer was Gallin!)

In fact, I have this dream that the Satellite of Love lands mysteriously in Los Angeles. Buffy and her Slayerettes investigate, and then are surprised to meet Mike, Servo and Crow. Then, they find this movie about a cheerleader who fights vampires, and Buffy says, "Guys, we have got to riff on this!"
And who could blame them?

There were plans for a Buffy movie for a new generation...and but without Joss Whedon or Sarah Michelle Gellar. (Edited to add: since Joss is busy in the Marvel-verse, and the TV cast has aged some, this may be more likely). More people are wondering why anyone should try. After all, more people look for the TV show, not the movie.
If Fran Kuzui wants to make a new Slayer movie, one word of advice:  any name except Buffy.
That way, if a new Slayer movie is done right, the real thing can show up, and give her blessing, which would also be Joss Whedon's.
For we all know, he is the 
one true parent of Buffy Anne Summers. 

(Also, the Nerdist website speculated what kind of Buffy movie we'd get if it was made in the 1970's. Actually, the casting's not bad: Cybill Shepherd as Buffy, Peter Cushing as Giles, Kurt Russell as Xander, Susan Dey as Willow, Morgan Fairchild as Darla. Not sure about Leonard Nimoy as the Master, though. This was during a time when he wanted to prove he was more than Spock, but I'm not sure this would be it.)
A blog called 
The Exploding Kinetoscope did a very detailed essay on the movie. It makes my essay look quite lacking. It compares the original Buffy movie to lots of other movies, and praises Sutherland's performance. Well, I had my angle and this blogger has his. Click here, and see for yourself.
AAAANNNDDD...someone found an article in 
Movieline that gives a detailed look at the movie, with a lot of emphasis on how this affects Luke Perry's chances to breaking away from his role on 90210. It didn't, but you wonder if it could have if the movie was closer to Joss' original plan, and people decided this was NOT a kid's movie.

Now, after we have had a flood of vampire genre on TV and the movies...for good and bad...could it be time for an all new version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, based on what Whedon really had in mind? If so, he, or Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tanchareon, should be involved somehow. That way, it will be done right.
Besides, wouldn't Emma Roberts look great mowing down the Hellspawn?

And for the record, my new website that's devoted to the many Buffy-related activities I've attended is 

Joss Whedon Joins Twitter; What Does That Really Mean? (from May 2013)

Like many fans of Joss Whedon, I woke up this morning, still excited about the first promo for the ABC show Marvel's Agents of SHIELD. Mostly, we were really stoked about what could be the catch phrase of the summer: "Don't touch Lola," uttered by the literally indestructible Agent Philip Coulson. How he's indestructible...well, that will be explained sometime, but let's enjoy it.

Then I find out on Facebook that Joss has finally made the plunge into Twitter, the 21st century equivalent of sending telegrams to friends, family or people who you think are just wrong.

According to his page @JossActual, he started his account sometime after 11 PM Pacific Time. His first words:

It's me! Joss! My own account! No more hiding under studio skirts! I'm FREE!     

Then, his next tweet:

MY account! I got strong opinions! I'm gettin' POLITICAL! (Heads up, LEMURS.) And making wry observations about mundane stuff!

That sounded good to me. So, I followed his account and, just because I can't help it, I try to write something that's as quirky as he is...

 Welcome! We Tweeters will follow you to the ends of the Earth, but not that tacky boutique over there, or that boring disco

OK, it isn't as quirky...or maybe it is. You decide. I follow that with something more intelligent:

 Of course, congratulations on  (is Luke Cage included?) and enjoy Seattle this week in 

(Note:  it's now @josswhedon, which is easier to remember).

That's less quirky, but I had to say something about Much Ado About Nothing about to kick off the Seattle International Film Festival. Maybe it will get an award there, or it will rule the world (at least the indie film part).

He sent some tweets before when he used the @MuchAdoMovie Twitter feed just before the movie's premiere during South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. He also wrote a few after that. This may be why he decided to get his own account.

This does not mean I'll be tweeting Joss 7200 times a day. I can be quirky elsewhere, and often. I do think that Joss will get a mountain of thank-you tweets when Much Ado finally gets a regular run next month, and then Comic-Con, and then the TV show. Maybe he'll get comments from readers of his Dark Horse comics. They can do that now.

Joss finally joining Twitter is the nerdy equivalent of Miley Cyrus coming back to Twitter, but over-active Whedon fans should keep the tweeting at a minimum, and make those tweets count. After all, it's all about quality, not quantity. That goes for how many followers you have. He has 67 thousand followers as of Monday afternoon. That will get much bigger, but not in the Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber territory. It'll still be impressive though.

Meanwhile, much of the Whedonverse is already on Twitter, from David Boreanaz and Alyson Hannigan, to Seth Green, Nick Brendon, Tom Lenk, Fran Kranz, Morena Baccarin, Jewel Staite, Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Seam Maher, Alan Tudyk, Camden Toy, Doug Jones, Eliza Dushku, Felicia Day, David Fury, Jane Espenson, Charisma Carpenter, Kristy Swanson, Amber Benson, James Marsters, Tim Minear....nearly everyone.
Sarah Michelle Gellar isn't on Twitter, but that can always change. (Note:  and it did, @RealSMG)

As far as connecting with Joss through Twitter, we shouldn't go too far. One big Twitter-lanche, and he might be scared off. Just welcome him, and think of an impressive tweet you can use when the time is right. That's the best way.
When he has a thought that is longer than 140 characters, we head to Whedonesque, like we always do..

Joss Whedon Dominates the Oscars...Sort of (from February 2013)

Since I am at a loss of how to pass the time this afternoon while I am waiting for The Walking Dead, BAFTA Awards and the Grammys, I will write a really cheesy column about how the inventor of Slaying, Vampires with Soul and Big Damn Heroes actually has a big connection with the Academy Awards in two weeks.

Joss Whedon won't be at the Academy Awards next weekend. He'll will be busy in Glasgow and Dublin showing Much Ado About Nothing to the film festivals there.  He would belong at the Oscars though, aside from his nomination for a screenplay award for Toy Story in 1995. It's actually because of his connection with what could be the favorite for Best Picture

Joss' biggest connection is Argo, the movie with the Best Director of 2012 (sorry, whoever wins the Oscar). The most obvious one Clea DuVall, who played Cora Lijek, one of the workers from the US Embassy who hid in the Canadian Embassy in Iran in 1979. She also played Marcie Ross, the invisible girl who was gunning for Cordelia  in  Buffy's first season ("Invisible Girl" or "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"). It would have been great to see what happened to Marcie after the FBI grabbed her. My guess is her invisibility wore off after being away from Sunnydale, but she figured out how to work undercover in other ways. DuVall was an FBI agent in Heroes, so it's plausible.

It doesn't stop there. Keith Szarabajka, who was Angel's nemesis Daniel Holtz, played Adam Engell one of the CIA officials discussing how to get the six Americans out of Iran.

Oh, and Ben Affleck was one of the basketball players in the original Buffy movie. It was when one the players suddenly became a vampire.

Oops, I almost forgot Tom Lenk, who plays a reporter for Variety when they have the table read for the fake movie.  He'll be more prominent when Much Ado About Nothing reaches American theaters this summer (aside from SXSW in March).

Yes, Browncoats, Alan Tydyk should be included, too. He is the voice of the Candy King in Wreck-It Ralph, a likely favorite for Best Animated Film

AHHH! I know, Tara fans. Amy Adams was also in the Buffy episode "Family", five years before she earned her first of four Oscar nominations for Junebug. She's in the Supporting Actress race for The Master (no, not the one who was clobbered a formerly dead Slayer). Sorry about that.

Of course, the Oscars announced the cast of The Avengers will be presenting, while the film is up for the award for Best Visual Effects. You can't ignore a comic book movie that earns as much as the gross national product of a couple of small island nations.

I just wonder if Much Ado About Nothing, which was made at Joss' house in 12 days for the cost of a really long limousine, could get some awards, too. Maybe Joss may find himself in the Independent Spirit Awards in 2014. Wouldn't that be interesting?

My Role In Dr. Horrible Screening (from October 2012)

I always wanted to know what it was like to help out in a charity screening of something I have on DVD.
Well, since I had a free one-way Southwest trip and lots of points to burn, I decided to do just that. I was security (sort-of) and part of the clean-up crew at the Dr. Horrible screening last weekend at the Barnsdall Gallery Theater. Actually, being a go-fer and spotter for celebrity cars wasn't too bad. I also escorted Shawna Trpcic (designer of clothes for Firefly, Dollhouse and Dr. H) to her seat, and spoke briefly with Greg Aronowitz (propmaster genius), Doug Jones, and Georges Jeanty of Dark Horse Comics. Whedonopolis' video review can be found here. I'd present the whole video, but it's PG-13 in one certain moment. This is the PG version:

PG Version of Fran Kranz as Walter White

Fran Kranz as Walter White, the early years. If Breaking Bad wants a prequel, I think we've found your man. The Whedonopolis link has the complete Fran, you might say. I saw him three times in the lobby and never figured it was him.

These two, though were easy to spot...

The Couple Who Make Husbands

Jane Espenson and Cheeks (Brad Bell), the couple who made Husbands the best sitcom TV doesn't air. They showed season 2 on the big screen, and it was a big hit. You don't see Joss Whedon as an actor every day, but after seeing him as a snarky agent that would be a good idea. Jon Cryer, though, is the real star towards the end as the Anderson Cooper-ish talk show host who actually surprises us.

There was also season five of The Guild, which I enjoyed more with a bigger screen. It included Doug Jones, namely this guy...

Doug Jones and pal

Remember, he's part of a classic foreign horror movie that almost won Best Foreign Film at the Oscars (but still picked up a couple). Also, gotta say, they should cast Amy Okuda as a super-heroine somewhere. Someone like Tink could fit into Arrow, for example.

The big event, of course, was Dr. Horrible. A lot of people took pictures of this couple...

Dr. Horrible, the alternate ending

That's the look of a girl who is happy an evil doctor game her the keys to a shiny new Australia, although this is also shiny: Australias you can eat!

Freshly Baked Australias

Looking at it on a big screen for the first time in four years, I actually noticed something I hadn't before. In the tragic but inevitable scene where Penny's about to die after being impaled by collateral damage from the latest Hammer-Horrible tussle, Dr. H tries to help her, but then she says "Captain Hammer will save us". Even in death, Penny has betrayed our poor evil Doctor. THAT is why he embraces evil, folks. He couldn't get the girl no matter what.

Of course, a sequel is still in the works. I wonder if this time Dr. H is so horrible, the Evil League of Evil decides he should be, how you say, expelled quietly but also in a million pieces? Maybe he'll find salvation in an Angelic Penny. Maybe Captain Hammer will have to ask H for (ugh) help. It would be a bit too Megamind-ish, but what the heck? Most likely I'll be surprised if he get an angelic Penny at least. We'll just keep waiting.

Some other sights of the screening:

Underwater Castle of the Game's Future?

Greg Aronowitz with the Underwater castle that may or may not be the future of The Game this season on The Guild

Dr. Horrible Poster That's Wanted

An autographed poster that will be sold for charity.
I hear next year Dr. H will be part of a web film fest. No doubt more Guild episodes will be part of it.

Morgan Spurlock Brings Comic-Con Movie to SF (from April 2012)

Morgan Supurlock and fans

We've been waiting quite some time for Comic-Con IV: A Fan's Hope, the documentary that Morgan Spurlock and Joss Whedon produced. It's supposed to be an inside look at one of the biggest and most popular events anywhere. After seeing it at the Vogue in San Francisco on Easter night, the movie does deliver in some levels. I just wish it was longer. It's just under 90 minutes, but it needed another 15 or 20 minutes. Well, what he couldn't include in the film, it will be in the inevitable DVD. It'll probably be two discs, although three will do, especially the blu-ray version.

Comic-Con IV: A Fan's Hope

So how can you condense 140 thousand fans and four days of Comic-Con 2010 into under 90 minutes? First, you have interviews with fans, a lot of them. That produces 700 hours of stuff. I was one of those fans, but I didn't make the cut. I may have had a chance if I was in costume, which I wasn't. I did dress as Dr. Who the 11th last year and will do so again. I just need a fez or something.

The film does have lots of interviews including Joss, Seth Green, Kevin Smith (who plays a part in one of the story lines), Grant Morrison, Kenneth Branagh, and more. It was also the first time I saw Paul Dini's face after knowing his name from the Batman animated series.

To get to the heart of Comic-Con, Spurlock chose several people who have stories that are connected with the event, We have two budding comic book artists who hope to get a foot in the door. We have a couple who met at Comic-Con 2009 who may be taking a big step if all goes well. It also depends on how the guy can get a very special ring for his girl. There's a collector who's there for only one thing: an action figure. There's Holly, a costume designer who hopes her entry in the Masquerade will turn some heads. There's Chuck Rozanski, owner of Mile High Comics, who has personally seen Comic-Con change from a comics-only convention into, as someone once said, Cannes for Nerds. Chuck's hoping to sell an extremely rare comic book that will keep him in business, in case sales aren't that great.
They are the best part of the film, especially Chuck and Holly's stories.

We also get to see Stan Lee, and Sylvester Stallone, Angelina Jolie and other movie stars that have basically taken over Comic-Con. We get comments about how the con is now a focus group for upcoming movies, which is true. It was the con that boosted Shaun of the Dead and Inglorious Basterds, but also exposed the weaknesses of films that use entire hotel buildings as billboards. Skyline, anyone? Hollywood taking over Comic-Con through product placement, and even "borrowing" a couple of restaurants to plug shows, would have been a great documentary all by itself. Again, if we had more on that, and contrast that with what Chuck and other comic book mavens think about how they're getting forgotten, it would have been a stronger film. It's certain this will be part of the DVD, and maybe something about how other people have become stars not exactly through major movies or TV, but through indie horror or internet shows (hey there, Felicia).

Spurlock takes questons after movie

The people at the Vogue were nice enough to let me sit in with both question and answer sessions with Spurlock. He's a cool guy, and had some interesting comments about movie distribution. He noted that while he was on late-night TV plugging The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (his take on product placement), less than 20 theaters showed his movie on its first day of release. So, he decided with the Comic-Con movie, it would be shown in a few theaters, but also on Amazon, iTunes and on demand. In fact, you can see this movie at home or on your iPad for seven bucks. People at the screening paid $10.50, but that's because they wanted to see it the way their ancestors a big dark room with popcorn and movie trailers. Having Morgan be there to sign autographs and talk about it was a bonus that they, and I, were happy to enjoy. The theater was actually two-third full for both showings, probably because it was Easter weekend. They also got dinged by a less-than-favorable review by the San Francisco Chronicle.

So what was left out of the movie? He talked about a girl who made a living dressed in costume, and how complex her costumes were. There was also a Colombian man who wanted to own his own comic book company, and hoped exposure at Comic-Con would help. He got a booth there, but not a travel visa. His wife had to go on his place, although she was not as involved in the business as he was. Spurlock said he would have had to use voice over to tell the story, and he didn't want to do that because the movie is without narration. He did say their company is still viable, and it's switching to digital comics. In fact, he said that digital comics could be the wave of the future.
He also talked about how that infamous stabbing during the Resident Evil panel prevented them from getting a very special romantic moment that was supposed to be one of the big story lines in the movie.

Spurlock also predicted that Comic-Con may be longer, maybe five or six days. That'll be great news to the hotel industry, that's for sure. I expect Petco Park will be the new Hall H, but that's just me.

Discovering the Secret in Berkeley (from April 2012)

It's been a long time since we had a new post here, since Whedonopolis gets priority for all my Whedon-verse posts. There are times, though, where I get to do such stories that someone else at that site has covered.

Nearly three weeks ago, I got to see the long-buried (thanks to MGM's financial problems) movie, The Cabin in the Woods, made by the words and thoughts of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard--and Goddard directing. .

Dread-Central was part of a new round of screenings over the past two weeks, including one this past Wednesday at the Shattuck Cinema in Berkeley.

While we couldn't bring cameras because Lionsgate said so, this was a much more active crowd compared to the one in Anaheim. It really helped when before the movie, Drew said the crowd should be as rowdy as it wants to be as the story unfolds. As my story said at the Anaheim screening, this movie takes a familiar horror story than sends it to places you'd never expect. That goes from what the college students do to where they wind up. I can only wonder what will happen on April 14th, when the "secret" is finally revealed and we can all talk about it. I can just hear the reaction of people being told who exactly is "behind the curtain" as far as the plot is concerned.
Again, no names. April 13th. This movie is your only hope to avoid giving money to a movie that is an even bigger horror, even if it does include Larry David as a nun (note: It's The Three Stooges).

So, what was the place like?

The Shattuck Cinema used to be a department store, but they renovated it for theaters in a section of town where one can choose from at least 15 movies in a three-block radius..and not under the same roof. The theaters themselves are uniquely decorated. They may be small but they are very nice places to check out a movie. My theater had a King Tut feel to it

I went there about 2:30, and found two people in line. An hour later, it was up to ten, and I decided to join in. The chairs are leather with very fancy cup holders. I was in the balcony where they had couches. It was like being at home, but with a very big screen and a stage. The place was filled about ten minutes after the screening was supposed to start. In my section there were a couple of kids that would be too young to see this movie. When you see it for yourself, you'll know why.

Drew and Amy Acker were introduced before the movie. Amy looked great but had cut her hair. That's too bad, since she looked great on Grimm recently with long hair.
Since this was my second time seeing it, I looked for some of the key moments that made this movie special, including how many scenes would have looked better in 3-D (I'd say maybe four or five).

Afterwards, Drew looked pleased abut how things went, especially about how people cheered for a certain item that Starbucks would be reluctant to sell. He also admitted that there are two characters that may remind viewers of Joss and Drew, and they're easy to spot. Again, no names. Go see the movie and you'll see what it is. I'm not the Hollywood Reporter.
He also explained how he tried to get a job being part of John Carpenter's movie, Vampires, in New Mexico. He didn't make it, but wound up working for a TV movie called Scattering Dad with Olympia Dukakis. Apparently it, too, had to wait a couple of years to be shown. Anyway, both movies were being filmed in the same area, which game Drew a chance to visit the set, and eventually meet Carpenter.

Then the discussion went to the chances of a sequel, and what Drew and Joss would have wanted to add to the movie. He also briefly discussed the chances of another Cloverfield movie. He said it depends on getting the right story.

Yes, Amy were there, too. She, too, was excited about working about the movie, and with Richard Jenkins, who...does something. You'll see.

The screening series will be ending soon, then everyone else will see The Cabin in the Woods. You'll find out why in every preview screening, there's one guy who appreciates this movie after the recent string of incredibly disappointing flicks. Seems Silent House is often mentioned.

Also, it gave me a chance to really get to use the BART system. I only used it to get from Fremont to San Francisco..and that was 30 years ago. Heading to Berkeley is good, too, and I may do that again soon. For now, though, I have another special movie screening in San Francisco this weekend. It's a movie I could see on iTunes, but meeting Morgan Spurlock after his Comic-Con movie is something I hope to do.

What if Buffy Wrote "Last Friday Night"?

Katy Perry was hoping that her latest song, "Last Friday Night" would hit #1 in the Billboard Top 100, and apparently set a new record.
I will admit it's the first time I've willingly bought one of her tunes, thanks to getting hooked on it during Comic-Con. I just thought what if you changed the song about a girl who partied a little too hard into one about a Slayer recovering from another typical night where she clobbered vampires to save mankind, or a significant chunk of it.
I came up with something, just after dozens of people came up with their own parodies. Some are still at YouTube.

Of course, I can't make something like that without willing accomplices. So, I just have the lyrics. It's called "Every Damn Night".
Picture this as Buffy waking up from another world-saving battle. So, sing along to the tune of "Last Friday Night". You, too, Sweet.....

I survived this night of doom
Wooden stakes all over the room
There’s a zombie in my bed,
He’s one of the Sleeping Dead
Werewolves passed out in the lawn
All their fur and pants are gone
Vampires cooked in a BBQ
But no bite marks or a bruise

Videos of my fight
Ended up online
I'm screwed
Oh well
Some publicity
Might be good, maybe
I hope

Every Damn Night
From Twilight to Breaking Dawn
I tell the vampires that it’s on
Though they’ll never will be gone
Every Damn Night
I am called the Chosen One
Have a job that’s never done
But I’m still second to none
Every Damn Night
I went slaying in the park
Killed six vampires in the dark
And they never left a mark
Every Damn Night
I’m a Supernatural Cop
And I know I just can’t stop. Whoa!
Every Damn Night
Do it all again
Every Damn Night
Do it all again

The apocalypse’s stopped, I guess
But I ruined my best dress
Had to burn that nightclub down
Where those vampires stayed in town
Watchers won’t like this at all
And they just won’t take my call
Here comes Fox and TMZ
They ask who I’m supposed to be

I’m the Slayer, you see
It’s my destiny,
which sucks, of course
But I prove my worth
And stop Hell on Earth
Or a Bad Horse, you see?

Every Damn Night
I got chosen at 15
My life’s anything but serene
But I’m better than Sam and Dean
Every Damn Night
Don’t ask if I get some nookie
My love life is not like Sookie
But I swear I am no rookie
Every Damn Night
So, be patient, if you please
This ain’t Vampire Diaries
Or that Stephanie Meyer cheese
Every Damn Night
Yeah, the risks I take are real
Should get a medal and book deal
And why not?
Every Damn Night
Do it all again
Every Damn Night
Do it all again


( Chorus )
Every Damn Night
From Twilight to Breaking Dawn
I tell the vampires that it’s on
Though they’ll never will be gone
Every Damn Night
I am called the Chosen One
Have a job that’s never done
But I’m still second to none
Every Damn Night
I went slaying in the park
Killed six vampires in the dark
And they never left a mark
Every Damn Night
I’m a Supernatural Cop
And I know I just can’t stop. Whoa!
Every Damn Night
Do it all....again

Why Hasn't Buffy Gone Blu? (From September 2011)

I checked out the latest DVD column from Aint It Cool News, and it mentioned that next week, along with the Star Wars Blu-Ray release that everyone hates, we'll get the blu-ray version of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Fans of the TV show have been at a fever pitch about when the blu-ray version of the TV show will be available. Some of Joss Whedon's other shows have gone blu, including Firefly, Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible. Even Serenity has a blu-ray release. I have that DVD. So why not Buffy, and Angel for that matter? Is it cost, music royalties, deciding on the artwork for the package? Demand for those shows in blu-ray is quite strong. The decision should be obvious.

Now, making a blu-ray of the original Buffy movie would be a good idea, if you added something the regular DVD doesn't have. I checked the specs for the blu-ray release from the site. It's exactly the same as the regular DVD. The cover picture may be different, but that's not enough. This movie is more than just regular filler on a couple of cable channels these days, It's the movie that eventually saved the WB, and led to girl power on TV (and, we guess, Twilight)
Next year is the 20th anniversary of the movie. Why not have a cast reunion? Seeing Kristy Swnason, Luke Perry, Paul Reubens, Hillary Swank and David Arquette discuss the movie would be a hoot. Add cameos from Ben Affleck and Seth Green, and you have something even better. Notice I didn't mention Donald Sutherland, who played Merrick. I'm not sure he'd be part of the cast reunion. If you add Joss, though, that would REALLY be something.

Also, AMC had a TV show called "Backstory", where it talked about how certain movies were made. One of those movies was Buffy. It was how I found out Alicia Silverstone and Katies Holmes almost got the title role. Why not add that episode to the blu-ray?
So, Fox is hoping to get a few more bucks by making a blu-ray DVD of the Buffy movie with no additional extras. That, I think, is a waste of time. If you want a blu-ray, it should be updated compared to the original DVD. It should have more features. Otherwise, getting the regular DVD would be just fine.

So, Fox Home Entertainment, make up for the dull blu-ray version of the Buffy movie and approve the blu-ray version of the Buffy TV show...and Angel, too. After all, Buffy's 15th TV anniversary is coming up. A release date of next March should do it.

Dr. Horrible Live: After Comic-Con 2011

Dr. Horrible Live

As Comic-Con slowly faded away Sunday night, and people were seeing a Joker or Sailor Moon walking down the street, some attendees decided to visit the 10th Street Theater to see Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog in a new way: a stage musical
Chinese Pirate Productions put this show together, and had attracted big crowds for more than a week.
Even Zack Whedon, who co-wrote the show, decided to check it out. His brief review on Twitter: "If you are a dr horrible fan the live production is AMAZING. 10th Ave Theater. It runs through the 30th. Go!"

The producers did a wise thing and re-tooled the story to make it a Broadway production. All of the familiar scenes are there, but there are also dancing homeless people, and Captain Hammer groupies. Even his henchman Moist is more involved, as Dr. H spies on Penny's date with the Captain. They even have "special effects" that show how Dr. H is able to take control of the van with the Wonderflonium. It's used several other times, especially when hey re-create the laundromat where Dr. H and Penny Talk.
In "My Eyes" we see Penny and Dr. H sing on opposite sides of the stage, while the homeless are dancing and Captain Hammer tries to get out of the way. We even have a PSA from the
Captain about how we should be vigilant, especially towards science geeks. The climax where Dr. Horrible finally becomes the super-villain he's wanted to be, including membership to the Evil League of Evil, is chilling, especially when he dons his new uniform.

Nathan Turner is great as Dr. Horrible. He's evil but he is sincere about wanting to save the world by ruling it. I also liked Michael Minto as Captain Hammer. He comes across as a Big Man on Campus, but you start to root against him when he confronts Dr. H about his relationship with Penny.
Jane Lui is also wonderful as the love of Dr. Horrible's life. Her voice did remind me of Felicia Day's portrayal, but she made the role her own with her own style of portraying a girl who still had hope for people.

Comic-Con 2011: The TARDIS Has Landed

Hall H at Comic-Con has been the home for the biggest events from the Avengers to Twilight, Cowboys and Aliens to Amazing Spider-Man.
It was the obvious choice for the Doctor Who panel with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. It's safe to say that was packed very quickly.
Others, however, found another way to see Matt and Karen: all they had to do is pay around 40 bucks, and see some nerd rant about things before the main event.
Since this nerd is Chris Hardwick, and it's his Nerdist podcast, that's OK. He filled 4th and B with hundreds of Whovians very quickly, and even had a second show.

I was in the middle of the audience, and managed to get some good pictures of Matt and Karen...

Another Nice Picture of the Doc and Amy

and even something that never happened to Tom Baker, or Katy Manning...

This never happened to Tom Baker or Katy Manning

See, they give out burritos after every Nerdist show, and what you see above will never happen again.

Matt and Karen talked about how they got on the show and settled into their new roles. Karen said she was stunned about how big we Yanks are for the Doctor. Well, it all started with PBS, then DVDs in the years when we had no new Who episodes. That's how...and those Dr. Who cons we used to have in the 1980's. Both were a big hit with the fans. If only I got my burrito cover signed by them.

Before that, it was still really good, especially Chris talking at length with Wil Wheaton. We found out about Wil's experiences at Comic-Con back in the days when it was just about comics, and maybe a movie or two. He had a great story over how he was reluctant to speak to Adam West until a Playboy playmate helped break the ice. We also found out both Wil and Chris are MST3K fans. They truly have taste.

After this, I may consider going to a Dr. Who con in L-A next February. It's not as expensive or crowded, for one thing, and it should be a hit.
Now I found out who was at the second show: Doug Benson, Judah Freidlander (world champion of the world, that is), and the Rifftrax/MT3K crew. Either way, I would have been just happy, but I prefer being with Doctor Who. That doesn't happen too often, and I might bump into Mike a lot sooner.

So, getting back to Doctor Who, they just posted the preview for the rest of the season. First off, it's about four weeks away, and they'll be rerunning the first half like crazy. Second, it's has some trippy visuals, like Hitler, a forest, and River Song wearing an evil monocle. She better be kidding, or Amy will tell River she's a bad daughter (just remember the last two minutes of the last episode). That being said, that is nothing compared to being threatened by a puppet version of the executive producer, Stephen Moffitt...

Dr. Who vs. the Puppet Moffitt

There was also a question about whether we will some of the companions from days gone by. Dr. Martha Jones and Donna would be possibilities, but how about Tegan or Nyssa, or Ace? I have a wild idea: we find out Victoria Waterfield wound up marrying a descendant of Jaime McCrimmon. Hey, why not? If they could find Ian Chesterton, and the temptation is too great, that would be the ultimate...and Donna's grandfather would be the one who would arrange it.

If you couldn't be there. here's a link to the article from the Nerdist website. You can download the podcast directly or by iTunes.

Call Me Mrs. Miracle: Jewel Staite Was Shiny, The Movie Was Not (from November 2010)

OK, I am not really a Scrooge when it comes to Christmas, but I might be a big Scrooge-ish when it comes to good holiday entertainment.
This past weekend, Jewel Staite became the first Whedon alumnus to be in a holiday movie since 2006 in Call Me Mrs. Miracle, a new Hallmark Channel movie abot a magical lady to saves Christmas by basically being at the right place at the right time. Doris Roberts was charming as Emily Merkle, the gal (who is a blessing from Heaven, let's be clear about this) who made everything better. I just wish she at least broke a sweat fixing everyone's problems. It just seemed to be a bit too easy for her. If that's how the book told the story, then my opinion doesn't count.

I will say Jewel Staite was the best thing about this. She plays Holly, the overworked but underappreciated assistant to Lindy Lo, a crabby fashion designer who thinks she's Anna Wintour. Jewel did a great job as someone who is determined to give her nephew a wonderful Christmas while did dad is deployed overseas. She actually reminded me of Jennifer Aniston. Anywho, Holly meets Jake, who manages Finlay's, a New York department store. Mrs. M, of course, thinks they could be good for each other...which they are. Problem is, Jake's dad, who owns the store, doesn't like to celebrate Christmas. He prefers to hide in the Virgin Islands until the holidays are over, so he can forget a very bad thing that did happen during the holidays.
So, Jake has a problem of selling out the toy department at the store despite the fact it doesn't sell the toy that every kid wants. His job, and maybe the store's future, are on the line. His hopes for a Merry Christmas look remote...but Mrs. M will make it all better.

I also didn't like Lauren Holly as Lindy Lo. First off, she acts like Meryl Streep in The Devil Wore Prada. Uh, why? It just distracts from the whole story. It also doesn't help that she doesn't respect her customers, or any potential new ones. It was also too easy for Mrs. M to change Lindy's mind, but if that's what happened in the book....

This was a typical Hallmark Channel movie where a family faces the possibility of an unhappy Christmas until a last-second miracle makes it all better. A cable channel full of cliches is not my cup of tea. Really good classic Christmas movies are made of holiday cheer, but they have a message that stands out if the story was set in July. In It's Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart realizes how important he was to his home town. In A Christmas Carol, an old man learns that he can afford to be kind and get something better than riches.
Call Me Mrs. Miracle may be a candy cane of a Christmas movie, but I prefer movies that can be gingerbread men, too.

Take Holiday Wishes, the Lifetime holiday movie that starred Amber Benson. She was a girl looking for her long-lost sister, while two girls (one rich, one poor) switched bodies to experience each other's lives thanks to a mysterious guy who Amber's character apparently knew. We later find out this guy was an angel. It was a bit more complex and interesting that what Mrs. Miracle could do. I just thought if you took out one of the angles (switched bodies, search for sister, guy was an angel), it would have been better.

So Call Me Mrs. Miracle shows Jewel can handle a nice romantic role, away from Browncoats and Stargates and such. Let's hope she gets a better story in the future. As for Christmas movies in general, I just prefer those where the hero works hard for a White Christmas after he dreams of it. In fact, I think that is what happens in the movie, White Christmas.

Then again, I also like Bad Santa.

Call Me Mrs. Miracle will be shown several times in December on Hallmark Channel

Dollhouse: A Different Kind of Toy Story (April 2010)

As some of you know, Smart Pop Books had a contest recently asking fans to write an essay on the late great Fox show, Dollhouse. The top 15 winners would have their entries published and put in a book that will be released this fall.
About a hundred people submitted entries, including me. Sadly, I didn't make it.
Maybe my entry was terrible, or too profound or too weird, or the competition was really that tight. I'm guessing it was one close contest.
All I know is that they got Jane Espenson as a judge. If there's anyone who knows good writing, it is her.

Therefore, here is my entry. Judge for yourself.

Question: what do Dollhouse and Toy Story have in common?

To the hard core Joss Whedon fan, the answer is obvious. Just two years before he turned a little teen horror comedy called Buffy the Vampire Slayer into a classic TV cult hit, he was involved in the screenplay of Toy Story, which revolutionized animated films. It also led to getting an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Last fall, Toy Story and its sequel were both re-released as a 3-D movie double feature as a prelude to the next movie, also in 3-D, next summer. It turned out to be a big hit, and the planned two-week engagement wound up being extended. A recent article in Entertainment Weekly* revealed that Whedon wanted to use Barbie to help rescue Woody and Buzz Lightyear in the first movie's final act, where they were in danger of being abandoned by Andy's family. It makes sense for a man who believes in girl power, or in this case doll power. Whedon said in the article he wanted Barbie as "Sarah Connor in a pink convertible." It would have been worth it to hear her say "come with me if you want to live" more than a decade before Summer Glau does on a TV version of the Terminator franchise. Producer Matt Guggenheim said in the article Mattel objected to using Barbie because they thought girls project their own ideas of what Barbie should be. Giving Barbie her own voice, Mattel allegedly thought, wouldn't become a girl's ideal. After Toy Story became successful, Mattel allowed Barbie to be part of Toy Story 2. That led to several Barbie CGI movies which are mostly fairy tales. Maybe it didn't think little girls would be ready for Barbie the Vampire Slayer, although they thought Barbie and Ken could fill Mulder and Scully's shoes in a special X-Files edition of the two dolls.

Mattel's alleged objection, however, stuck with me because it could be the same attitude Rossum has towards its Actives in all its Dollhouses. An Active is there to fulfill a client's fantasy or need. If you give an Active its own voice, it may not become a person's ideal. It would become, well, too human to do the job it's supposed to do. At least too human for Rossum's comfort.

So, could Dollhouse be the dark side of Toy Story, where clients could be like fair and loving like Andy, or evil like Sid, or somewhere in between?
That's not too far out, really, although there are other ways to connect the movie with the TV show.

Let's start with the idea that both Toy Story and Dollhouse involve people treating people like toys. A child defines what a toy should be, just as a client decides what an Active should be. Through the short history of Dollhouse, consider some of the "roles" that Actives have played: a geisha, midwife, backup singer, nerdy fan, birthday party guest, a Topher clone, blind girl, safecracker, wife, mother, solider, lover, doctor...and a few others Barbie never had the chance to do. However, the Actives are treated like what toys are supposed to be: living yet blank objects until someone wants to play with them. They are not supposed to form attachments with each other, like Echo does with Sierra and Victor. They are not supposed to share affection, or have "man reactions" on their own. A Doll is just there to fulfill a fantasy. It's not supposed to have one of its own. That's only allowed in Pixar movies.

Usually, the Dollhouses cater to clients who have a lot of money, and are just like Andy, a person who treats his toys fairly. When the first Toy Story movie starts, he's using his toys to play out a bank robbery, with Woody as the hero who saves the day. Compare that to a client asking to have an Active to play more mature roles, like a romantic date, a mercenary rescuing a kidnapped child or a safecracker. After the client is finished "playing" with his Active, it gets "put back on the shelf" after its imprint is wiped clean. In the Toy Story world, the toys know full well what they are, and just enjoy life being part of a child's world. The Actives just wander around, paint or practice yoga. As far as the Dollhouse is concerned, Actives are toys with no thoughts in their heads. Having thoughts would make them more complicated than a Mr. Potato Head, whether he's a toy or the Pixar version with Don Rickles' voice.

There are clients who are like Sid, the evil kid who likes to break toys, or make them even worse. Remember the Erector set spider with the bald baby doll head? The best example of a "Sid" is Nolan Kinnard, a major player inside Rossum. One day, he meets a girl named Priya at a party, and decides he must possess her, literally. Using a mental health clinic that he owns, he drives Priya insane through the use of drugs. Then he sends her to the Dollhouse, where she is turned into Sierra, an Active who is his own personal plaything. Calling her his girlfriend would be too charitable. In "Needs", Sierra becomes aware of her past as Priya, and confronts Nolan about it. Not only does he admit it, he says she is going to return to him anytime he wants. He's right, because Sierra's sudden self-awareness was really part of a plan by Dr. Claire Saunders to have the Actives resolve unresolved issues, and become obedient again. This didn't quite work with all of them. It's also ironic, since the one who came up with the plan is later revealed to be an Active, too. More on that later.
Then when Nolan demands that he keep Sierra permanently, he uses his position in Rossum, and pressure from fellow company bigwig Matthew Harding, to get what he wants. However, what he winds up getting is Sierra as Priya, her former self. She tells Nolan she never loved him, but loves someone else whose name she can't explain. When Nolan start abusing what was supposed to be his personal toy, she winds up stabbing him to death. Sid should be glad his mutant toys never struck back like that, or that Woody just warned him to take care of his toys.

Another example is Hearn, who was Sierra's handler. Adelle DeWitt figures out that he has been raping Sierra, but he also admits it readily. He says when you see women who are willing to do anything for you, you're bound to take advantage. She gives him a way out by sending him to kill Mellie, who's been helping FBI agent Paul Ballard expose the Dollhouse. When Hearn does attack her, she gets a call from Dewitt, telling her there are three flowers in a vase. The phrase turns Mellie from victim to Hearn's assassin, but it also shows she is a sleeper Active. She takes care of Hearn just as Sierra took care of Nolan. It's quite a lesson to both Nolan and Hearn not to abuse toys, whether they own one or not.

There's also a list of clients who are somewhere between Andy and Sid. That is, they may seem to have the best of intentions at first, but their needs may become too dark or uncomfortable. Richard Connell, the client in "The Target", wanted a companion on a whitewater rafting trip. What he really wanted was a companion for a hunting trip, with Echo as his prey. She's barely able to escape, but the Dollhouse is stunned about how they were fooled by this man, and whether rouge Active Alpha is responsible.

Joel Mynor, internet whiz, is the only client on the show who is able to justify why he needs an Active. In "Man on the Street", he explains that he wanted to capture a moment that never was: surprising his wife with a new house that he bought through his internet creation, "Bouncy the Rat". That moment never happened because she died in a car crash just before she got to the house. Paul still thinks Joel's fantasy is bad because he's using a person who is fulfilling his fantasy because she lost her free will. However, Joel turns it around on Paul, asking him whether his fantasy is saving Echo from her life as an Active, and what he hopes to get out of it. In a way, Paul hopes to find redemption through a toy, in this case Echo.

Later, Paul discovers that he's no better than Mynor or any other Dollhouse client. This happens when he learns that Mellie is a sleeper Active. It's a fact that surprises her because his relationship with Mellie had become intimate. He wonders if her affections towards him are real or programmed. It gets to the point that he doesn't care, and still has sex with her. Afterwards, when she asks when they're going to find Dollhouse clients, Paul finds his own mirror.

He would be surprised if he learned that Adelle DeWitt, who manages the Los Angeles Dollhouse, had been posing as "Miss Lonelyhearts" so she could enjoy her own toy...Victor, or Roger as she calls him. Some may wonder how this is different than what Nolan or Hearn did to Sierra. While these two men abused Sierra to get what they want, all Adelle had to do was have Victor imprinted. She didn't force him to have sex with her. He was just programmed to do that. He is her toy, and he is there to be her ideal. Victor/Roger is a life-sized version of Ken, only better...or at least that's what she tells herself. It's still abuse because she's taking advantage of a man who has no free will. Rather than take her chances at parties or even singles bars, she finds a quick yet empty solution with an Active. It's not as violent as what Nolan and Hearn did, but it's still abuse. She even tries to enjoy one last night of passion with Victor/Roger before his term as an Active ends. He is reluctant because, as Sierra told Nolan, he says there's someone else he loves, but can't explain who she is.
Why did she did she think she could get away with it? Maybe she thinks she's entitled to borrowing a "toy" because she thinks the Dollhouse is her own toy store, if she doesn't get caught. That's what being head of a Dollhouse means, until Matthew Harding tells her she is seen as a toy to those who are really in charge, including himself and Clive Ambrose. That may have been the moment she started having doubts about what the Dollhouse is really doing, well before Ballard did.

The connections between Toy Story and Dollhouse don't stop there. While all the toys in Toy Story are aware of who they are, the exception is Buzz Lightyear, who is convinced he's a real Space Ranger who can fly. This puts him in a rivalry with Woody, who had enjoyed his status as Andy's favorite toy. He finds out the truth by seeing a commercial about himself, and finds out the hard way he can't go to infinity, but can go straight down. Through friendship from Woody and the other toys, he gets over this problem.
In the Dollhouse, there is no rivalry among the Actives. They just know one thing: "I try to do my best". For a while the number one Active was Whiskey, who would later become Dr. Claire Saunders. Whiskey would be the most popular Active, until Alpha decides to make Echo the top Active. He does that by scarring Whisky and killing some Actives. He did this because it was love at first sight for him, He did this to earn her love, but would not get it. Love was not important to her. She didn't get "girl reactions" when she was with Alpha. It was more like fear when she saw what he did. Still, her fear was gone when she was wiped, and prepared for her next role that a person bought her to fulfill.

Dr. Saunders could be considered the Dollhouse version of Buzz. As he always thought he was a real crime-fighting hero, Claire thought she's always been the physician of the Dollhouse because she was programmed that way. When Dr. Saunders discovers her Active past, she isn't interesting in learning who she was. She just knows who she is now.
That would have been the end, until "Vows", when Dr. Saunders is busy taunting Topher. She is still dealing with the fact that her past and present is all a lie, and that Topher made her. She later seduces him, claiming that Topher made her to hate him so that he would eventuallty win her love. He disagrees, because he wanted her to hate him to remind him that it's partially his fault Alpha went mad, which led to Saunders, as Whisky being scarred. He's not the client here. Dr. Saunders' process of discovering her true self is much more complicated that what Buzz had to accept.
It would have been interesting to see how Claire would decide that, even if she was an Active, she can be a real person by just saying that she was. However, that would never happen, as her body would be taken over by Clyde Randolph, one of the co-founders of Rossum, in "The Hollow Men."

However, one Doll did manage to say he was real by saying so. It was none other than Paul Ballard. Throughout the series, he considered Dolls as people who may as well be murdered, even though they didn't know it. He considered those who used them, even for the best of intentions, to be cruel. He had to be turned into a Doll to be saved after Alpha severely damaged his brain in "A Love Supreme". At least he has Mellie, who is also a Doll again when her retirement ended in "The Left Hand." When they infiltrate Rossum headquarters in Tucson in "The Hollow Men", she asks him why is she there with him. She keeps reminding him that they're not real, and their love for each other is a program. In fact, it was just a few days before when he looked at Mellie again, and wondered if she was really all right now that she will never be free from being an Active. Now, he accepts the fact that he is a Doll, but also declares he is still as real as anyone. That includes their love for each other. He may have gotten the inspiration from how Sierra and Victor fell for each other, even as Dolls. It's just as important as Buzz sees that he may be a toy, but can be something special because of what he can do to save his friends.

There could also be a link between Woody in Toy Story 2 and Senator Daniel Perrin, Rossum's man in the U.S. Senate, and how an Active can be considered a commodity rather than a fantasy. In the movie, toy store owner Al McWhiggin finds Woody because he wants to sell him to a museum in Japan. To sweeten the deal, he gets someone to "spruce up" Woody so that he looks like he's in mint condition. That's not too far off from that Rossum did to one Daniel Perrin. He had the pedigree to be someone important in Washington, but not the desire. That changed when Rossum used its Dollhouse in Washington D.C. to "improve" his brain. It had hoped he would give them some clout in Washington, and pass regulations that would favor Rossum. It would lead to him marrying his handler, and starting a campaign to "expose" Rossum's unethical medical experiments, which would eventually exonerate them. The plan almost works, but Rossum winds up changing Perrin again, with more ambition towards a new goal: the White House. Somehow, Rossum is determined to turn the nation, and eventually the world, into its own Dollhouse. They would create toys that are no longer playthings anyone can control. but wind up controlling us.

It's interesting that Joss Whedon would be involved in two projects that would look at humanity and identity. One would be Toy Story, which looks at toys when they're not at play, and how they can be as human as we are. The other would be Dollhouse, which looks at life-sized toys made of flesh and blood, and how they can be used and abused just like any toy. The movie would make millions of dollars for Disney, while the TV show would face a premature end.

The final results are also very different. In a Pixar world, the toys sing and dance, and are happy that they're together. In a Dollhouse world, the world is not so cheery. In about ten years, it becomes a mess filled with Dumbshows and Tech Heads, Butchers attacking Actuals, while the most powerful change bodies as often as they change suits, or exist in multiple bodies. It's the fulfillment of the professor's prediction from "Man on the Street", when he says Mankind will cease to matter if technology robs it of its true self. The only hope for a happy ending arrives when those who invented the tech that ruined the world use it again to fix their mistake, and sacrifice themselves as penance.

While a scene that was never part of Toy Story inspired this comparison with Dollhouse, there's another scene that was almost part of the Dollhouse pilot that's also important. It's where Topher told Boyd in the unaired pilot, "Echo" that everyone who lives in the Dollhouse, even the staff, are toys, and those who play with the Actives little children. That statement becomes very ironic, since it's eventually revealed Boyd was the toymaker all along.
Maybe the lesson here is that we should not treat others like mindless toys. It's a lesson that hopefully corporations, and people of major influence, should learn....or they will find out the average person isn't the same as that old Barbie they used to have.


Why Dr. Horrible Made History (from July 2009)

Here lies everything
The world I wanted at my feet
My victory’s complete
So hail to the king

Fans of Dr. Horrible recognize those lines as the musical climax to the Sing-A-Long Blog, where the doc finally achieves his goal to become part of the Evil League of Evil....but at a very high price.

However, you can take those words and give them new meaning. This time, you can picture him singing those words after finding out that his story has made history as the first original web show to earn an Emmy nomination.

In the past couple of years, the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences has recognized internet content, mainly webisodes. Now, Dr. Horrible has stopped the world not with his freeze ray, but his own musical. When you think about it, the Emmys couldn't ignore the Doctor. He's been a hit on the internet, iTunes, and even his own DVD. No one else has gone that far.

However, some may think the "victory" isn't complete: Dr. Horrible is under "Outstanding Special Class - Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Programs". It's competing against the Super Bowl Half-Time show, and webisodes linked to 30 Rock, Battlestar Galactica and The Daily Show. Some may wonder why a half-time show would compete with web content. Maybe it's because they tried to come up with a category that almost fits the nominees. In this case, guys, not quite. Besides, Super Bowls win Emmys in sports production and announcing, not for entertainment. The last Super Bowl half-time show I liked was Super Bowl XXXVII,when Sting sang "Message in a Bottle" with Gwen Stefani.

Also, since Dr. Horrible did get an Emmy nomination, why didn't its songs get nods for "Original Music and Lyrics"? Yes, the Emmys have that category, which has been won recently by "I'm F*cking Matt Damon" and "D*ck in a box". Surely, "It's a Brand New Day", "My Eyes", "Everyone's a Hero" or even "Bad Horse" could have competed with songs that did make the Hugh Jackman's song that opened the Oscars, Stephen Colbert's Christmas song, or Flight of the Conchords' "Unnatural Love.".
And...I think Hugh could win because his production number did more with less, and even plugged his movie. (Take that, Colbert!) Still, the Whedons' and Maurissa's songs should have been considered.

That being said, let's recognize the real victory: an original web series, unconnected with established TV shows, won an Emmy nomination. Once the precedent is made, the Emmys will have to change with the times, and make new categories specifically for web content. One could be for webisodes connected with regular shows, another for original shows. Maybe other categories like Best Actor in an Internet Drama are a few years off, but you have to start somewhere. Dr. Horrible's nomination is good news for web shows like The Guild, Web Therapy, Cell Fulldose, Children's Hospital, Rockville CA, and many other original web shows out there. It shows the Emmys are starting to recognize web-based original shows as a true genre. Full recognition will take a few more years, but it will happen.

Dr. Horrible may see himself as a super-villain, but he is now a hero to those who make original web shows. They know that getting an Emmy, or even being considered, is no longer an impossible dream.

Whose Buffy Is She Anyway? (from May 2009)

Ask any Buffy fan, and that person will credit one person for making her a legend in TV or comic books...Joss Whedon.
He was the one who wrote the original script for the movie in 1992. He was the one who brought her to the WB, and make her the netlet's first big hit. She inspired a spinoff, Angel, and several comic books, including one about a Slayer from the distant future.

So, when news broke about someone planning to make a new movie called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that Joss wasn't involved, a lot of people were stunned. After all, they thought, Buffy belongs to Joss, right?
Well, yes and no.

As the Hollywood Reporter article pointed out Fran Rubel Kuzui and her Kuzui Enterprises have held onto the rights. She developed the movie in 1992, and directed it. She later got together with Sandollar Television to produce the show for the WB in 1997. Whedon may be the Father of Buffy, but Kuzui also has parental rights, in a way.

So, she is getting together with Roy Lee and Doug Davison of Vertigo Entertainment to create a new Buffy movie. It's a "reboot" of the Buffy story that she directed in 1992. In that Buffy-verse, she was trained by a weird guy named Merrick, but also got help from a cool guy named Pike. No details on a plot for the new version. It could start all over again, or the 1992 Buffy could die in battle, and make room for the 2010 Buffy. This would fit the old legend that "for every generation, there is a Chosen One." Also, the new version would be darker, and more ambitious, with hopes that Buffy will become a movie franchise like Harry Potter, Star Trek or Indiana Jones. Ironically, Joss' original version of the Buffy movie was darker, although the special effects were kept to a minimum.

Still, would people accept a movie called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is there is no Joss writing the words or directing the script? Would they accept someone else as Buffy Summers, or a movie without Willow, Xander, Angel, Giles, Spike, Drusilla or even Sweet hoping to create a musical number?
If you judge the reaction to regular visitors of Whedonesque, the answer is no. The only Buffy know is the one on TV, and the movie version just a first draft. If there's no SMG or Joss, or Scoobies, it's not the real Buffyverse.

This isn't really unusual. It wasn't too long ago that movie studios would make competing versions of a classic character, like Tarzan. While Peter Sellers is recognized as the one and only Inspector Clouseau, fans couldn't accept anyone else in that role, including Steve Martin and Alan Arkin. After quitting James Bond, Sean Connery came back for an unofficial remake of Thunderball, called Never Say Never Again. Also, let's not forget how JJ Abrams took the Star Trek Universe that Gene Roddenberry built, and renovated it for a new generation, thanks to a black hole and time travel. At least, here, Abrams tells us this is a different universe for current sci-fi fans, but the Old School Trekkies can hold on to the original show, and even the TNG, DS9 and Voyager timelines. Thus, no conflict, and you still get Spock no matter what you believe.

The idea of rebooting Buffy is to meet a need that her fans have had for a long time: to see her slay another day, and guide the next generation of Slayers, now that the "one per generation" rule has been tossed. We have that thanks to Dark Horse, but some say they want the old cast back just one more time, and establish new Slayers. Imagine Kristin Stewart, Emma Stone or even Ashley Tisdale picking up the stake. I am trying to avoid suggesting anyone from Gossip Girl being a Potential, but if Leighton Meester is interested, we'll see. Sadly, that won't happen, but will a new Buffy movie that Joss Whedon isn't writing or directing be acceptable? Apparently not, but people are going to try to see if it can work.

Actually, there is a way it can work. Just don't call the new Slayer Buffy. In fact, let's bring back Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry as a couple who are concerned about their 17 year old daughter, and how she's acting strangely. It could be due to that mole just below her neck, and that she's sneaking off at night. Once they find out that she's been battling vampires, Kristy will turn to Luke and say, "See? Our daughter does have the Mark of the Coven...just like me.
"She's the next Slayer, and we've got to train her."

Now I am saying "the next Slayer." That doesn't mean the old one died, and the new girl has to be trained fast. By having the story be about the next Slayer, you can have it mean that the new Slayer is the latest of a long line of Slayers already busy at work holding back evil and such. That, of course, means there's still plenty of room for Buffy in this movie Slayererse. If this is done right, Joss can give his blessing, and get involved somehow. With the reputation he has, respecting his definition of a Slayer is important.

Seeing if Buffy the Vampire Slayer can be reborn, even if her body isn't Sarah Michelle Gellar, will cause a big debate. It may lead to shelving the movie, or having a movie produced with a new cast, or the old TV cast. Whatever happens, Joss Whedon must have some say in the matter. Fran Rubel Kuzui may have helped Buffy's birth in the movies and TV, but it was Joss who raised her well to become the Girl Power Icon we know today.

Of course, it could be could be a direct-to-DVD movie, like the second sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer or a prequel to the Dukes of Hazzard.

UPDATE!! Joss briefly talked to Mike Ausiello of Entertainment Weekly about this Joss-less Buffy movie....

What do you think about this Buffy movie they're making without you?
JOSS WHEDON: I hope it's cool.

Joss is still filming Cabin in the Woods, but when he has time, he'll have more to say.

Dollhouse at the Paley Festival (from April 2009)

 Even with Dollhouse facing the threat of cancellation, Joss Whedon scored his second straight sellout with his panel on the show, moderated by Matt Roush of TV Guide. That living doll, Eliza Dushku, was there, along with fellow dolls Miracle Laurie and Dichen Lachman, along with Fran Kranz aka Topher, and writers Sarah Fain and Liz Craft, who wrote two episodes. I was hoping we'd see Amy Acker, Harry Lennix, or Olivia Williams, but this was still a good panel. Although I got some good pictures, we were not allowed to bring digital recorders, and that included real internet reporters. So this is one big paraphasing, but a fairly good account. For a while, it looked like we wouldn't get a sell-out, but the Cinerama Dome was packed just before seven p-m. I even brought a doll with me. It wasn't one of those Echo dolls Fox gave to reporters along with the screener, but I could pretend the remains of Laurence Dominic still got a good seat.

Well, Dominic wanted to go

 Before the panel, we saw episode eight, "Needs", where some of the Actives were able to get closure, and therefore be glitch-free from now on. In theory.
The crowd loved the show, with the cast members having a ball, too. One of the first subjects was that 13th episode that Fox, the TV show maker, wanted for DVD sales and foreign TV, but Fox, the network, decided not to air because it already got its 13 episodes...if you count "Echo", the pilot that never was. In any case, Joss says the episode is incredible, and so will the rest of the shows coming in the next few weeks. As for whether there's a future, Joss admits his feelings have been moving from resignation to, well, hope. While the regular ratings are soft, the DVR and demo numbers are encouraging. I say throw in Hulu downloads,and we start writing season two immediately.

 As for the show, he admits it's been a difficult birthing process, but he praised the cast for its patience through the whole thing. Remember, Firefly's pilot was shown last, but the Dollhouse series has been produced out of order. Fans in the know are aware many parts of "Echo" were used in the first few episodes, and some will be used in "Omega" next month.

  Eliza between the puppetmasters

 Of course, Eliza had lots of praise for the guy who made her a vampire-slaying babe, and admitted she liked his mind. Also, the show has let her do a lot of things, from being a tomboy to a butt-kicking safecracker, and also some challenging roles like when she was a blind prophet in "True Believer". Very soon, she'll actually be older in another engagement, with Bad Horse (yes, that one) in a cameo role.

 Topher Brink, Super-Duper Genius

 Fran Kranz had some interesting things to say about the process of getting the show off the ground, and how it's help him understand his character, Topher Brink. He admitted that he thinks Topher is like a child. He says his intelligence is so great, he's never related to anyone until the Dollhouse. He even compared Topher as a guy who plays with his toys, except they're full-sized people. He also said that his relationship with Adelle is almost maternal, which really explains how they've had to rely on each other lately. By the way, Fran was in a movie called The TV Set, which spoofed the process of pilot season. He noted some similarities between the plot with how Dollhouse was developed

  It's a Miracle

 Now, how about this huggable doll, Miracle Laurie, who plays November? When we first saw her, she was the girl next door who seems to be a little too interested in Paul. She says she's had to tell her family that she'll be doing more than just give Paul Italian food. She also loves the reaction she's been getting from fans as well as family. She's also pointed out that being a doll is a little difficult because it's something no one has done before. She did point out that although all Actives are supposed to be totally neutral, they still are different in very subtle ways.

  More discussions

 As for Dichen, she also says it's been a blast. She especially loved being the dorky fan in "Stage Fright." She's also aware that the show suggests Sierra is the only Active who was forced into the Dollhouse, while the others "volunteered". That fact, she says, brings up many of the ethical issues in the show.

 So what can we expect in the future? Eliza still calls Echo "the awesomest glitcher in the world", which may suggest she will keep "evolving" Joss, meanwhile, says Echo may be passive as we get closer to the season finale, but not all the time. Joss says the casting process can change the characters themselves. DeWitt, for example, was supposed to be some kind of dragon lady, but Olivia Williams' take on DeWitt has made her something different, namely evil yet sympathetic. Also, the role of the Dollhouse itself has changed. We know the Actives perform engagements, and the details are supposed to be private. Then someone asked, what about all that information the Dollhouse gathers? What is done with that? Hmmm...

 The audience then got a chance to ask some questions. One person asked if we'd get some stories about the staff. Fran suggested that we see Topher shop at the supermarket..and spot Paul there. That would set up a scary confrontation at the frozen foods section.

 Then someone asked if Joss thought about making his own shows and bypass everyone, especially the networks? While he's impressed how far the internet has come, even as an alternatives to the nets, he says TV is the place for him, and that having a chance to tell stories in that medium is a privilege. He didn't say if he'd work exclusively for cable in the future, but at least he still believes in the keen flat screen, formerly the boob tube. There was also one person who saw a connection about human experimentation among all of Joss' shows. There could be a link between the Actives, River Tam and how her brain was hacked by the Academy in Firefly, and Adam, the undead cyborg the Initiative made in Buffy. Joss was a bit surprised by this, but did point it it can be seen as a metaphor of how we are conditioned by society. He also talked about A.I., and how that has influenced him.

 Then the cast was asked what was their favorite parts of the set. Eliza liked the art corner where Echo could paint, do a little bonzai, or something "artistic". Fran liked Topher's lab because he can store some stuff from craft services, but he also liked Dr.Saunder's office. Dichen also liked Topher's lab, but Miracle has her special place in a nook under the lab. So how much will be revealed after "Omega", and even "Epitath One", ends. Joss estimates about 35 percent, but assures everyone that episode will open plenty of doors that will guide viewers to another twisty season. If Fox gives
us one,that is

. A Living Doll

The only thing I wish I had was Eliza's autograph on my Dollhouse screener, but a good picture of her is just as good